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Active Funded Research Projects

Identifying and Informing Strategies for Disrupting Drug Distribution Networks: An Application of Community Policing to Opiate Flows in Pennsylvania

This project seeks to understand, describe, and disrupt networks of illicit sales of opiates from a public safety perspective in partnership with Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, and local treatment facilities. This project will help to understand hotspots of drug distribution and access, while addressing the utility of community based policing in addressing this complex issue.

 

Prior research emphasizes the disruption of the supply of prescription opioids from healthcare sources and increased first-provider access to the opiate overdose reversal drug, naloxone. Additional efforts emphasize combating demand by increasing treatment options for users. Within this context, however, there has been less emphasis on understanding, describing, and disrupting networks of illicit sales of opiates from a public safety perspective. We aim to fill a gap in these efforts by partnering with law enforcement, state agencies, and community organizations to identify and describe opiate distribution of opiates in PA and the geographic hotspots of sales within urban and rural PA communities to inform recommendations aimed at disrupting the supply of illegal opiates (including heroin, fentanyl, and diverted prescription opioids). We will develop tools to identify and describe opiate distribution networks and geographic hotspots of opiate activity from administrative data and community input that will be of broad interest to public safety and health experts in other communities in PA and other states.

Project Team

  • Principal Investigators: Glenn Sterner, Post-Doctoral Scholar, Justice Center for Research, Department of Sociology and Criminology, ges5098@psu.edu; Ashton Verdery, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Demography, Department of Sociology and Criminology, amv5430@psu.edu; Shannon Monnat, Associate Professor, Sociology, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, smmonnat@maxwell.syr.edu
  • Co-Investigators: Pete Forster, Associate Dean, College of Information Sciences and Technology, pforster@ist.psu.edu; Gary Zajac, Managing Director, Justice Center for Research, gxz3@psu.edu; Scott Yabiku, Department of Sociology and Criminology, sty105@psu.edu

      About the Project

      • The National Institute of Justice made an award of $990,002 to Penn State to support this project, for the period  January 1, 2018 – December, 31, 2019.
      • The Pilot Study for this project was supported by the College of the Liberal Arts.

      Research Questions

      1. What are the characteristics of heroin and fentanyl distribution networks? We will focus on their hierarchical structure, number and strength of connections, clusters of distribution possibly associated with different organizations, susceptibility of distribution networks to disruption, and geographic spread.
      2. What are the characteristics (same as #1) of prescription opioid distribution networks?
      3. How do the distribution networks of heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opiates compare?
      4. How do residents’ perceptions of the geographic locations of opiate distribution compare to police collected data on opiate arrests, opiate seizures, and distribution locations?
      5. What are the differences in demographic and socioeconomic characteristics and major highway access between neighborhoods with high versus low opiate distribution as defined by arrest data?
      6. What are the differences in demographic and socioeconomic characteristics and major highway access between neighborhoods with high versus low opiate distribution as defined by participatory mapping?

        Project Objectives

        1. Identify and document the structure of heroin and fentanyl distribution networks in PA.
        2. Identify and document the structure of diverted prescription opioid networks in PA.
        3. Compare heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid distribution networks in PA and their connections to each other.
        4. Develop and apply tools to record resident identified locations of local opiate distribution in 6 Pennsylvania Counties.
        5. Compare resident identified locations of local opiate distribution to relevant arrest locations.
        6. Describe the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of neighborhoods with high vs. low distribution (as measured by arrest records and respondent reporting).
        7. Provide recommendations for law enforcement to better target heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid distribution networks in ways that increase network disruption.
        8. Provide recommendations for improving intelligence gathering activities related to documenting and disrupting opiate distribution networks.
        9. Create stronger community and law enforcement connections.
        10. Disseminate information for opiate treatment and reporting of illicit activity at study sites.
        11. Create a portable data fusion model that other jurisdictions can employ to document, detect, and disrupt opiate distribution networks.

          Implications

          Looking more broadly at the value and impact of a geo-spatial approach to understanding opiate markets and avenues for their disruption, opiate abuse has tremendous consequences for the welfare of drug users, affecting their long term involvement in the criminal justice system, as well as their health, employment and employability, family relations, and other outcomes. Drug use and the criminal justice system involvement that often follows have consequences for the wellbeing not only of addicts and dealers themselves, but also for their families and more broadly their communities. Improved interdiction approaches that can result from our proposed study has benefits not only for the criminal justice and public health systems that are responding to the opiate crisis, but also for the communities that are harmed by widespread use of these substances, where such harm includes public health impacts, violence and social disorder. Our project will also encourage broader collaboration between researchers and law enforcement, especially in rural communities, and will set the stage for further applications of research and analysis to the study of opiate and other drug abuse in other communities beyond PA, demonstrating the importance of this approach and testing methods and innovations that can be diffused across many law enforcement settings nationally. We have an extensive plan to disseminate this information to a broad audience, including local and state criminal justice organizations, local, state, and national government officials, academic organizations, non-profit organizations, treatment and addiction centers, and task forces.

          Although this study is limited to six counties in PA, the analyses and results from this study will have the ability to inform policy and practice across the Commonwealth and the United States. First, our innovative approach to data fusion will be of interest to law enforcement agencies to use as a model for addressing complex criminal justice issues. We are utilizing datasets from multiple units within the PA State Police to develop understandings of drug distributions. Similarly, we are utilizing community-based data gathering and existing data to gain clearer understandings of drug sales in neighborhoods. By tackling this issue from multiple perspectives, we are able to provide recommendations for police enforcement policy and practice to ensure efforts are maximized to disrupt the distribution of opiates. Integration across inter-departmental agencies and across jurisdictions is a model that could be applied to the opiate epidemic and other criminal justice concerns. Second, by identifying the common characteristics of communities where significant distribution occurs, we can inform criminal justice agencies on potential areas for concentrating officer targeting.

          Project Partners

          Justice Center for Research, Penn State College of the Liberal Arts, Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, and The Center for Rural Pennsylvania.

          Share Your Opioid Story: A Collaboration between Independence Blue Cross Foundation, The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, and Penn State University

          This project will tell the individual stories of the opiate crisis in the Philadelphia Region, addressing the stigma associated with opioid addiction.

          Project Team

          Principal Investigator:  Glenn Sterner, Ph.D.
          Co-Investigator: Gary Zajac, Ph.D.
          Researcher: Elaine Arsenault, M.A.

          About the Project

          Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties continue to present some of the highest rates of overdose from opiates in Pennsylvania. In 2015, 1,338 individuals lost their lives in the five county Philadelphia Region. Along with this loss in our community, addiction treatment, law enforcement issues, and disruption of family life all accompany those affected by the opioid crisis in the Philadelphia region and beyond.

          The story of the opiate crisis in the Philadelphia Region, much like the rest of the country, continues to be told through the use of staggering statistics including the deaths reported above, rates of overdoses, uses of opiate reversal therapy, amount of people seeking treatment, amount of additional resources needed to treat those suffering with addiction, amount of opiates seized from law enforcement, among many others. However, these numbers fail to capture the effect of opiate addiction on individuals, family members, friends, and communities. 

          Glenn Sterner will coordinate a team of individuals that consists of Penn State University researchers and IBX professionals on a project to tell the individual stories of the opiate crisis in the Philadelphia Region and Philadelphia more broadly, addressing the stigma associated with opioid addiction.  Dr. Sterner, a Post-Doctoral Scholar in the Justice Center for Research at Penn State University, is an expert with regards to the opiate crisis.  He is involved in numerous research projects across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to address this issue, and he is Chair of the Pennsylvania Coalition to address Heroin and Opioid Addiction.  Through this project, the aim is to illuminate and give voice to those affected by the opiate crisis to raise awareness of how pervasive and invasive this crisis is in the Philadelphia region and across the Commonwealth. The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs has signed on as a partner in this project to expand its reach across the state.  Through the collaboration between Penn State University researchers, IBX professionals, and the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, we hope to tell the stories of individuals of the opiate crisis in our Philadelphia communities to reduce the stigma associated with addiction and thereby enable others to talk more broadly about this critical subject to receive the help they desperately need.  This effort is funded by the IBX Foundation, and all products of the project will be made available to the public through an interactive website.  In addition, we will be engaging student interns from the Rehabilitation and Human Services Program at the Penn State Abington Campus to host community events in the summer of 2018 to facilitate community conversations around stigma associated with the opioid crisis.

          Project Objectives

          Through this phase of the project we aim to:

          1. Interview 3-5 individuals from each of the 5 counties in the Philadelphia Region (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia) who have been affected by opiate addiction.
          2. Produce 10 short videos that will tell an individual’s story.
          3. Produce 30 short print stories that will tell each individual’s story.
          4. PSU team will work with IBX Foundation’s communications staff to prepare and broadly disseminate findings and stories through blog postings and articles.
          5. Produce a website that highlights the stories of opioid addiction.
          6. Host community presentations on the stories and website, and assess the impact of these presentations on audiences.
          7. Increase awareness of the broad spectrum of people affected by opiate addiction in the Philadelphia Region and across Pennsylvania.
          8. Increase awareness of resources available to those affected by opiate addiction in the Philadelphia Region and across Pennsylvania.

          Implications

          This is an incredibly important project, as it will help to begin to explore the diverse experiences associated with the opioid crisis currently ravaging our communities.  By helping to address the stereotypes associated with opioid addiction and those affected by opioid addiction by illuminating the myriad diverse individuals in our study, we may be able to increase those seeking help for opioid addiction and expedite this process.  Stigma associated with opioid addiction can lead to shame associated with this disease, which delays the initiation into addiction counseling services.  By beginning to help to address this stigma through our research, individuals may be more apt to seek services earlier, leading to quicker positive outcomes.

          Through our website and outreach activities, we hope to be able to connect those affected by the opioid crisis on a broader scale.  We also hope to give voice to those stories associated with the opioid crisis.

          Additionally, this project will help to examine the effects of the opioid crisis and opioid addiction on individuals, helping us to examine research needed to document the ways that this crisis may be differentially affecting communities and marginalized individuals.  We anticipate that this will uncover narratives that will differ across experiences, leading to further expanded research.

          Finally, this project will help to further understand the depth of impact on individuals in our sample by the opioid crisis and opioid addiction.  While quantitative studies document the propensity of this issue, this project is specifically designed to provide greater context of the statistical analyses, and may uncover additional areas for quantitative research opportunities.  This project will help to provide a needed understanding of the life altering experiences associated with the opioid crisis and opioid addiction.

          Project Partners

          Justice Center for Research, Independence Blue Cross Foundation, Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs

          Participate in the Project

          Telling the Stories of the Opioid Crisis – We want to hear from you

          Have you lost a loved one or a friend to an opioid overdose?  Are you in recovery from opioid addiction?  Are you currently struggling with opioid addiction? Or maybe you have been affected by the opioid epidemic in some other way.

          We want to talk to you, because we would like to hear your story. 

          Dr. Glenn Sterner from the Justice Center for Research at Penn State University is working to collect the stories of the opioid crisis in our Philadelphia communities. We want to show the human side of the opioid epidemic, how it affects people of all backgrounds, and the impacts it has had on individuals, family members, friends and communities.

          We have two goals.  First, we want to reduce the stigma surrounding the crisis and help people to talk about opioid addiction more openly. Second, we want to connect those affected by the opioid crisis, so you can know that you are not alone.  By doing so, we hope to assist those affected in getting the help they desperately need.

          If you live in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties, we want to sit down with you and hear your story of how the opioid epidemic has affected your life.  From this interview, we will document your story and post it in on an online website we are in the process of creating that will share your story and the story of others across the Philadelphia region and across Pennsylvania.

          If you are interested in sharing your story, please email shareopioidstories@gmail.com or call 814-867-3295.  We will connect with you as soon as possible.  Thank you for your interest.

           

          Understanding Incarceration and Re-Entry Experiences of Female Inmates and their Children: The Women’s Prison Inmate Networks Study (WO-PINS)

          This developmental study investigates the incarceration and re-entry experiences of female inmates and their children.

          Project Team

          • Investigators: Derek Kreager, Department of Sociology & Criminology (dkreager@psu.edu), Gary Zajac, Sara Wakefield (Rutgers University), Dana Haynie (Ohio State University), and Michaela Soyer (Hunter College)

          About the Project

          • This project will fill three critical knowledge gaps identified by the National Research Council in their report on the causes and consequences of mass incarceration in the United States: (1) the absence of even basic information on modern conditions of confinement, (2) the potential heterogeneity in incarceration effects across individual and institutional contexts, and (3) the limited understanding of any association between maternal incarceration and child well-being.
          • The proposed project will leverage strong relationships with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to explore the prison and re-entry experiences of female inmates incarcerated in two Pennsylvania prison units. 

          Project Details

          • In Phase 1, investigators will reveal each units' informal organization and culture using innovative social network data that maps the unit's friendship network, status hierarchy, and romantic ties. Network analyses will test hypotheses for the sources of prison status and the associations between inmate social position and outcomes such as prison victimization, mental health, official misconduct, and family visitation.
          • In Phase 2, parole-eligible inmate respondents in the two Pennsylvania prisons will be administered semi-structured qualitative and network interviews to garner their future expectations, social capital, and preparations for community re-entry. Women's expected social networks provide a unique glimpse into the re-entry process that can later be compared to actual networks upon release. This phase of the project has clear implications for family reintegration, employment, post-release program participation, and relapse/recidivism. Contemporaneously, child and caregiver interviews will be conducted for inmate respondents who are mothers. These interviews will capture the well-being, fears, aspirations, and preparations of inmates' families and surrogate parents prior to prison release.
          • During Phase 3, investigators will conduct two post-release community interviews of Phase 2 respondents to understand how the previously imprisoned women, their children, and caregivers have adjusted to life after prison and if their envisioned plans came to fruition. The goals of this phase will be to identify and drill down on the mechanisms underlying successful prison re-entry and criminal desistance.

          Project Products

          • Aided by an advisory board of social scientists, correctional practitioners, and child advocates, the project's data and products will test theoretically-driven hypotheses while also informing prison-based and community programs aimed at smoothing the inmate re-entry experience and reducing negative child and inmate health and behavioral outcomes. 
          • NIJ award for $685,857 over 3 years.

          Prison Inmate Networks Study (PINS)

          This study examines the social networks of prison inmates in a state correctional institution.

          Project Team

          • Principal Investigator: Derek Kreager, Ph.D., Department of Sociology & Criminology (dkreager@psu.edu)
          • Co-Principal Investigator: Gary Zajac
          • Co-Investigators: Martin Bouchard (SFU), Dana Haynie (OSU), David Schaefer (ASU), Michaela Soyer (Hunter), Jacob Young (ASU), Sara Wakefield (Rutgers)

          About the Project

            • The National Science Foundation made an award of $323,814 to Penn State to support this project, for the period April 15, 2015 - March 31, 2017.
            • Seed funding was provided by the Justice Center to support development of this project, including collection of pilot data.
            • This study is related to the TC-PINS project discussed in the next section and the R-PINS project under development, discussed under the Justice Center Supported Projects section.

            Research Questions

            • What is the structure and implications of inmate network ties for in-prison health and rehabilitation and post-release recidivism?
            • How does an inmate’s position within the unit’s informal network structure relate to his out-of-prison ties and community reentry?

              Project Details

              • Project focuses on inmate social networks in a minimum security general population unit at a medium security Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution.
              • All inmates within a single unit were recruited for participation in computer assisted personal interviews, with a response rate of approximately 70% across two waves of data collection during summer and fall of 2015.
              • Project has full support from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

              Public Data

              • How do I acknowledge the use of the PINS data in an analysis? Please use the following text when acknowledging the use of the data: This research uses data from The Prison Inmate Network Study (PINS), a program project directed and designed Derek Kreager Martin Bouchard, Dana Haynie, David Schaefer, Michaela Soyer, Sara Wakefield, Jacob Young, and Gary Zajac, and is funded by grant LSS-1457193 from the National Science Foundation. Special acknowledgment is due to Corey Whichard, Ed Hayes, Gerardo Cuevas, Wade Jacobsen, and Kim Davidson for interview and coding assistance, and to Bret Bucklen and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections for their valuable support of this project. Information on how to obtain the PINS data files is available on the PINS website (http://justicecenter.psu.edu/research/pins). No direct support was received from grant LSS-1457193 for this analysis.
              • How do I cite PINS data in a manuscript? Please use the following text when citing the use of the data: Kreager, Derek, Martin Bouchard, Dana Haynie, David Schaefer, Michaela Soyer, Sara Wakefield, Jacob Young, and Gary Zajac. 2015. The Prison Inmate Network Study (PINS), Wave I, 1995. State College, PA: Justice Center for Research, Penn State University.

                Implications

                • This study will have important implications for understanding how inmate social networks influence inmates’ lives and wellbeing in prison, as well as their reentry prospects.

                 

                View the Project Abstract (.docx file)

                Reentry Prison Inmate Networks Study (R-PINS)

                This study in development examines how the in-prison social networks of prison inmates examined in the PINS study (see summary of this under Active Funded Research Projects) impacts post release experiences of selected inmates from the PINS study who have since been released.

                Project Team

                • Investigators: Derek Kreager, Department of Sociology & Criminology (dkreager@psu.edu), Corey Whichard (PSU Criminology doctoral student), Sara Wakefield (Rutgers), Michaela Soyer (Hunter)

                About the Project

                • This project in development extends the current PINS study (see summary of this under Active Funded Research Projects) with intensive interviews of parole-eligible inmates prior to and after prison release.
                • Seed funding was provided by the Justice Center to support development of this project and interview costs.
                • External funding is currently being sought to further the development of this work.

                Research Questions and Project Details

                • This project will explore post-release experiences of inmates enrolled in PINS, examining the impact of prison-based and community network ties on post release outcomes including employment, housing, community social ties, health and recidivism.
                • A subset of inmates who participated in the PINS study were recruited to participate in interviews after their release, with over 100 surveyed inmates  agreeing to do so.
                • Exploratory interviews are presently being conducted throughout the state with inmates who have since been released to test methods and elucidate questions in support of a larger research agenda around inmate social networks and reentry experiences and outcomes.  Released inmates will be interviewed in several waves.
                • This line of inquiry can lend important policy insight into how social capital and ties before, during and after prison impact reentry outcomes and promote successful offender reintegration.

                Therapeutic Community Prison Inmate Networks Study (TC-PINS)

                This study examines the social networks of prison inmates in a prison drug and alcohol therapeutic community (TC).

                Project Team

                • Principal Investigator: Derek Kreager, Ph.D., Department of Sociology & Criminology (dkreager@psu.edu)
                • Co-Investigators: Gary Zajac, Martin Bouchard (SFU), George DeLeon, (NYU), Dana Haynie (OSU), David Schaefer (ASU), Michaela Soyer (Hunter), Jacob Young (ASU)

                About the Project

                • The National Institute of Health made an award of $444,084 to Penn State to support this project, for the period August 1, 2015 – July 31, 2017.
                • Seed funding was provided by the Justice Center to support development of this project, including collection of pilot data.
                • This study is related to the PINS project discussed in the previous section and the R-PINS project under development, discussed under the Justice Center Supported Projects section.

                  Research Questions

                  • How does the informal inmate network structure relate to the diffusion of treatment outcomes in a prison-based therapeutic community?
                  • How do inmates’ positions within the TC network structure relate to their treatment engagement and post-TC drug relapse and criminal recidivism?
                  • How do informal inmate network structures influence offender reentry?

                    Project Details

                    • Project will focus on inmate social networks in a drug and alcohol treatment therapeutic community (TC) within a State Correctional Institution within the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.
                    • Selection of a specific institution is still being finalized, with an initial wave of data collection anticipated for summer of 2016.
                    • As with the PINS study, all inmates within a selected TC will be recruited for participation in computer assisted personal interviews.
                    • Project has full support from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

                      Implications

                      • This study will have important implications for understanding how inmate social networks influence inmate reentry as well as the dynamics of the prison therapeutic community setting.

                      Examining Murder Convictions and Punishment

                      This project has two primary goals. First, we will focus on the same 18 “field data” counties that were used in the Center’s recently completed study of disparity in death sentencing to gather more detailed data on the cases that were charged with second and third degree murder, and/or criminal homicide. The Center’s original death penalty study examined case processing only for offenders convicted of first degree murder, due to limited funding. This was noted as a limitation of our original research, as we could not speak to the processing of all homicides. The goal for the new study is to be able to trace how second and third degree cases proceed through the conviction process, either through plea bargaining or trial. We will also link these case-level data with data on the characteristics of counties to look for patterns in the between-county variations we found in our original study. Second, we will focus on selected counties with the heaviest homicide caseloads from our original study and conduct interviews with the District Attorneys, Judges and Public Defenders/private defense attorneys. The goal here is to better understand this case processing more generally and how the decision is made to seek the death penalty. Very little work has been done on this topic, and it begs further exploration.

                      Project Team

                      • Principal Investigator: Jeffrey Ulmer, Ph.D., Department of Sociology & Criminology ()
                      • Co-Investigator: Gary Zajac, Ph.D.
                      • Project Consultant: John Kramer, Ph.D., Department of Sociology & Criminology- Emeritus 

                      About the Project

                      • The National Science Foundation made an award of $300,000 to Penn State to support this project over a two year period.
                      • This study will build upon the work previously conducted by Drs. Kramer, Ulmer, and Zajac on death sentencing in Pennsylvania.

                      Research Questions

                      • How are level of homicide charging decisions made?
                      • How are second and third degree murder cases processed through the criminal justice system, relative to capital cases?
                      • How do charging decisions relate to county characteristics, such as demographics, voting patterns, etc.?
                      • How do prosecutors make decisions about whether to file for the death penalty in homicide cases?

                      Project Details

                      • Utilize and expand on the case processing analysis conducted under the previous Death Penalty study.

                      Implications

                      • Results will inform our understanding of the dynamics of murder case processing across all levels of homicide charging. 

                      Pennsylvania State Police TRIAD Program

                      Prescription pain relievers and heroin (opiates) abuse is a growing epidemic in the United States. Of all drug-related overdose deaths in 2013, 43% were due to prescription opioids and 22% were due to heroin, representing an increase of over 300% since 1999 (NIDA, 2015). In Pennsylvania, opiate overdose rates have increased over 470% over the past two decades, and the state now ranks 7th in the US for drug-related overdoses (Center for Rural Pennsylvania, 2014). Additionally, over half of all arrests in Pennsylvania in 2014 involved heroin (Center for Rural PA, 2014). The cities of Harrisburg and York were recently ranked 25th and 33rd, respectively, amongst the most dangerous cities to live in the US (NeighborhoodScout.com, n.d.). During the last three years, drug-related deaths increased 69.05% in Dauphin County (which houses Harrisburg) and 69.64% in York County (which houses York). Due to the critical and prevalent nature of this issue, we are proposing an innovative project – the TRIAD program – that will disrupt the flow of these illegal substances into our communities through three components: increased patrols, technological advancement, and community partnerships.

                      Project Team

                      • Principal Investigators: Pennsylvania State Police
                      • Co-Investigators: Jennifer Gibbs, Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice Program, Penn State Harrisburg; Jonathan Lee, Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice Program, Penn State Harrisburg; Glenn Sterner, Post-Doctoral Scholar, Justice Center for Research, Department of Sociology and Criminology, ges5098@psu.edu

                      About the Project

                      • Proposal to the Bureau of Justice Assistance

                      Project Details

                      To combat the rise in drug-related crime and deaths, PSP will utilize Smart Policing Initiative FY2016 Competitive Grant (SPI) funds, under Purpose Area 1: Smart Policing Innovation, to develop “The Triad Program.”  The Triad Program (TRIAD) is a mitigation strategy driven by arrest and overdose data, to be evaluated for effectiveness by the research partners at Penn State University, utilizing measurable performance metrics.

                      TRIAD will synchronize innovative enforcement strategies, driven by cutting-edge technology, while leveraging information received by community input and outreach, along with police-gathered intelligence.  TRIAD is named for the three main component parts that will be brought to bear on the problem of drug-related crime and deaths: Incident Response Team, Technological Dashboard, and Community Partnership.

                      The TRIAD program will be assessed through a quasi-experimental design using Harrisburg City and York City as target areas, and two respective comparison areas which will be determined based on demographic characteristics.  Pre-intervention and post-intervention data collection will be implemented through PSP database sharing and resident surveys at both the target and comparison areas.  Crime analysis will deliver hot-spot identification and examine situational factors associated with high odds of criminal incidents.  Surveys will shed light on individual perceptions of drug activities and police enforcement, among others.

                      Project Objectives

                      1. Mitigate overdose rates in York and Harrisburg and their surrounding counties.
                      2. Increase disruption of opiate distribution networks through increased surveillance and arrests.

                      Implications

                      This project has great potential for sustainability after the SPI funding period.  Once the Technical Dashboard is purchased, PSP will have the resources to continue the TRIAD program.  Additionally, the PSP Commissioner has encouraged police-researcher partnerships to ensure evidence-based practices, and Penn State Harrisburg has a commitment to promoting evidence-based practices in policing.  Further, PSP has networks and influence with other jurisdictions across the Commonwealth, and PSP fully intends to introduce the TRIAD program to other areas if it is effective.  This includes presenting the project at various regional and national conferences (e.g., IACP, Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association).  Finally, the research partners will attend academic conferences and produce academic publications to disseminate results to the academic community, who can promote the TRIAD program to other jurisdictions.

                      Project Products

                      • BJA Grant Proposal submitted April 12, 2016 for $697,473

                      Building a Strong Identity and Coping Skills (BaSICS) Program

                      This is a randomized control trial to study BaSICS, a program designed to teach low-income and racial/ethnic minority youth healthy ways of coping with stress, develop positive personal and cultural identities and engage in efforts to strengthen their communities.

                      Project Team

                      • Principal Investigator: Martha Wadsworth, Ph.D., Department of Psychology (mew27@psu.edu)
                      • Co-Investigators: Mark Feinberg, Ph.D. (PSU), Jarl Ahlkvist, Ph.D. (PSU), Gina Brelsford, Ph.D. (Penn State Harrisburg), and Damon Jones, Ph.D. (PSU)

                      About the Project

                        • The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) awarded Penn State $2,800,000 to support this project for the period May 2016 – April 2018 and May 2018-April 2021 pending successful completion of the first two years’ goals.
                        • Testing the efficacy of BaSICS for promoting adaptation among at-risk preadolescents.
                        • Seed funding was provided by the Justice Center to support the development of the funding application.

                        Research Questions

                        • Does BaSICS lead to acquisition and use of adaptive individual and collective coping strategies?
                        • Do children who complete BaSICS show improved physiologic stress regulation in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) in comparison to children who do not receive the intervention (control)?
                        • Do children who complete BaSICS show lower levels of anxiety, PTSD, and depression than control children at post-test and follow-up?  Are improved coping skills and HPA regulation mechanisms of these differences?

                        Project Details

                        • Conduct pre- and post-intervention and follow-up assessments measuring proposed mechanisms that contribute to maladaptation in youth facing adversity, including regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) and acquisition of adaptive ways to cope with chronic, uncontrollable stress (SAM).
                        • Implement and evaluate BaSICS using a randomized control trial.

                        Implications

                        • Findings will elucidate how psychosocial interventions can improve preadolescents’ physiologic regulation, how long-lasting such changes are, and the extent to which physiologic change is necessary and/or sufficient to prevent anxiety and depression in at-risk youths.
                        • There are important implications of this work for eradication of income- and race-based health disparities.

                        RiseUptown: A Comprehensive Community Collaboration to Reduce the Adverse Effects of Poverty on Urban Adolescents

                        This project will implement and assess the impact of an evidence-based multicomponent program designed to improve educational and mental health outcomes and reduce delinquent and risk-taking behaviors in early adolescents living in neighborhoods characterized by concentrated poverty and high levels of crime and violence. The RISEUP (Resilience Intervention for Social Empowerment in Underserved Places) program integrates a school-embedded youth coping and empowerment intervention (BaSICS) with a community-driven neighborhood crime and blight reduction initiative (CPTED) to synergistically reduce exposure to risk factors, increase protective factors, and reduce unequal youth health, behavior, and education outcomes.

                        Project Team

                        · Principal Investigators: Martha Wadsworth, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Penn State-UPark (mew27@psu.edu); Jonathan Lee, Ph.D., Penn State Harrisburg; Julie Walter, Tri-county Community Action, Harrisburg

                        · Co-Investigators:, Jarl Ahlkvist, Ph.D. (PSU-UPark), Siyu Liu, Penn State Harrisburg

                        About the Project

                        · The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) awarded a subcontract to Penn State in the amount of $234,334 to support this project for the period May 2019 – April 2021.

                        · Testing the efficacy of the RISEUP program in reducing youth crime and violence in Uptown Harrisburg.

                        · Faculty release time funding was provided by the Justice Center.

                        Research Questions

                        · Does collaborative youth-adult RISEUP reduce crime and improve the public spaces where crime takes place in the Camp Curtin neighborhood?

                        · Does RISEUP improve youth deviancy and mental health outcomes?

                        · Does RISEUP increase collective efficacy and community cohesion?

                        Project Details

                        · Deliver BaSICS portion of RISEUP intervention to two consecutive cohorts of 6th graders at Camp Curtin Academy.

                        · Conduct CPTED portion of RISEUP with youth involvement from each cohort of youth as well as community members.

                        · Conduct baseline-pre-post-follow-up assessments via community surveys, youth surveys, and official police and school records.

                        · Analyze deviation from expected/predicted trajectories on adult and youth violent and non-violent crime, youth mental health and school problems such as truancy, community engagement, and collective efficacy.

                        Implications

                        · Equip middle school youth with effective skills and practices for coping with poverty-related stress (PRS) and trauma, including both individual and collective approaches.

                        · Reduction in youth and adult violent crimes and youth-police contacts.

                        · Engage the community in coordinated social action to identify, redesign, and revitalize public spaces where crime takes place.

                        · Increase collective efficacy and community cohesion via youth-integrated community social action.